Archive for July, 2006

I Don’t Want to Believe This

Posted: July 28, 2006 in Bicycling

Something is just plain wrong and I’m not sure which side of the story is fallible. Is it Floyd Landis, the modest, boy-next-door (assuming you are a Mennonite) who somehow suffered a personal failing by doing something unnatural and illegal to raise his testosterone level?

Or is it the drug testers who failed in their ability to design or perform tests that really root out the dopers?

Like Sports Illustrated writer, Austin Murphy, I want to believe that Floyd did not cheat. If he did, then I believe he should have his Tour de France victory taken away.

However, what irritates me the most is the rush to judgment by those who know little about sports, medicine, or science that Floyd is guilty based on the results of his A-sample urine test. What if the B-sample is negative? Will they eat their words (or the electrons that form their cyber-sentences)?

A couple of good articles have come out on some of the science behind Floyd’s test result. First has an article, Floyd Landis positive: Was it the beer?

The other is Testosterone 101 on

Andrew Pipe, a physician and medical and scientific adviser to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports in Ottawa, says that synthetic testosterone is normally injected, but taking it in the middle of an athletic competition would have little effect in boosting performance. 

“Anabolic steroids, of which testosterone is the granddaddy, can have a central nervous system effect,” he said. “But anabolic steroids largely work by increasing the capacity for training and increasing the bulk and tolerance of muscles. That isn’t going to happen in a few hours.

“The effect of the testosterone is not going to be experienced unless there’s a very significant training endeavor associated with it as well.”

I been actively involved in this sport as an amateur bicycle racer for over 30 years. I am not naive enough to think that Floyd wouldn’t possibly use drugs, but this scenario does not make sense. Let’s see what the B-sample shows.

Last, as in a previous entry, we need to do something to reduce the incentives to dope rather than increase the disincentives. Another article, Developing the picture: A suggested mechanism for dealing with doping in sport, has some interesting thoughts on this topic.